Pilgrimage to Hemkund Sahib is suspended after a bridge near Bhyundar village along the trek route was washed away in rains and a substitute for it is still under construction.

Pilgrims stranded in Ghanghariya on way to Hemkund sahib and those in Badrinath are being evacuated under the supervision of Chamoli District Magistrate Ashok Kumar who is camping in Govindghat for the last three days.

Chamoli's Disaster Management Officer Nand Kishor Joshi said vehicles are ferrying stranded pilgrims from Badrinath to Benakuli and Lambagad to Joshimath. About one thousand pilgrims have so far been evacuated to Joshimath today, he said.

Pilgrims are also being airlifted in two choppers from Ghanghariya en route to Hemkund Sahib and ferried to Joshimath, he said. About 350 pilgrims have been brought from Hemkund Sahib in choppers to Joshimath.

Most of the Sikh pilgrims who were earlier stranded in Ghanghariya have now safely reached their destinations, Hemkund Guirudwara Prabandhak committee chief Seva Singh said.

Heavy rain on Wednesday and Thursday had caused landslides and blocked the Badrinath National Highway at a number of places disrupting the yatra whereas a wooden bridge along the trek route to Hemkund Sahib had been washed away.

Blockage of Badrinath highway and washing away of the wooden bridge over Pushpawati river in Bhyundar village on way to Hemkund in Chamoli district had left over 11,000 devotees stranded. Seva Singh said Indian Army and ITBP personnel are helping people cross over Pushpavati river through temporary bridges made with the help of ropes.

However, the hardships faced by pilgrims have failed to dampen the spirits of those still waiting at different points in Chamoli district for the roads to be restored so that they could visit the two shrines to pay obeisance.

Those on way to Hemkund sahib will have to wait for at least two to three days for the alternative bridge over Pushpavati river in Bhyundar to be complete before they proceed again on their journey, Seva Singh said.

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